An image of a spectacular butterfly-shaped balloon in the Milky Way was taken by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) telescope.
The astounding planetary nebula, known as NGC 2899, appears to float and fly across the sky in this pristine image from ESO’s very large telescope (VLT) in Chile.
A planetary nebula is created when a star leaks fuel to burn and blow its outer layers of gas into space.
NGC 2899 has never photographed in such detail, revealing pale outer edges of an expanding gas shell glowing over the background stars.
The blue parts of the “butterfly”, located at a distance of up to 6500 light years, consist of oxygen gas, while the surrounding reddish hue on the edge is hydrogen.
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This highly detailed image of the planetary nebula NGC 2899 was taken using the FORS instrument of the very large ESO telescope in northern Chile. This object has never been depicted in such striking detail
“This object has never been depicted in such striking detail, even the faint outer edges of the planetary nebula shone above the background stars,” the ESO said in a statement.
Despite their name, planetary nebulae – shells of gas and dust ejected by a dying star – have nothing to do with planets.
They form when ancient stars up to six times the mass of our Sun reach the end of their lives, collapsing and blowing expanding shells of gas rich in heavy elements.
Intense ultraviolet radiation charges and illuminates these moving shells, causing them to glow brightly for thousands of years.
Planetary nebulae eventually disperse slowly into space, which means they are relatively short-lived and rare – there are about 1,500 known ones in the galaxy, according to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
NGC 2899, discovered by the English astronomer John Herschel in 1835, is located somewhere between 3,000 and 6,500 light-years in the southern constellation of Vela.
The huge chunks of NGC 2899 gas extend up to a maximum of two light-years from its center and reach 18,000 degrees Fahrenheit or 10,000 degrees Celsius.
Image of the Omega Nebula from the Very Large Telescope (VLT) with a dusty, pink center
Such high temperatures are due to the large amount of radiation from the nebula’s parent star, which causes the hydrogen gas in the nebula to glow in a reddish halo around the oxygen gas, in a blue color.
NGC 2899 has two central stars that are thought to give it an almost symmetrical appearance.
Once one star has reached the end of its life and discarded its outer layers, the other star impedes the flow of gas, forming a butterfly-like bifoliate shape seen here.
According to ESO, only about 10 to 20 percent of planetary nebulae show this type of bipolar shape.
Astronomers were able to capture this image using the FORS instrument (FOcal Reducer and low-dispersion spectrograph) installed on UT1, one of the four 27-foot telescopes that make up VLT in Chile.
This high-resolution instrument was one of the first to be installed on the VLT – which began operating in 1998 – and is behind other stunning images.
In 2013, FORS returned an image of a unique green colored unique nebula, reminiscent of the thinner ghost from the 1984 film Ghostbusters.
The glowing green planetary nebula IC 1295, a surrounding fog and a dying star. It is located about 3300 light years in the constellation Scutum (Shield).
The planetary nebula IC 1295 has been discovered around a fog and a dying star located about 3,300 light-years in the constellation Scutum.
He also previously shot a shot of The Omega Nebula is about 6,500 light-years in the constellation Sagittarius, with a dusty, pink center.
FORS has been used to study the physics behind the formation of complex planetary nebulae.
He also contributed to observations of light from a gravitational wave source and studied the first known interstellar asteroid.
The asteroid, called “Oumuamua” by its discoverers, is up to a quarter of a mile (400 meters) long and very elongated – probably 10 times as long as it is wide.
THE VERY LARGE TELESCOPE IS A POWERFUL INSTRUMENT FOR CHILE
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has built the most powerful telescope ever built in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.
It is called the Very Large Telescope (VLT) and is widely considered one of the most modern optical instruments ever made.
It consists of four telescopes whose the main mirrors are 27 feet (8.2 meters) in diameter.
There are also four mobile auxiliary telescopes with a diameter of six feet (1.8 meters).
The large telescopes are called Antu, Kueyen, Melipal and Yepun.
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has built the most powerful telescope ever built in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, and called it the Very Large Telescope (VLT).
The first of the single telescopes, the Antu, began in routine scientific operations on April 1, 1999.
Telescopes can work together to form a giant interferometer.
This interferometer allows images to be filtered for any unnecessary obscuration objects, and as a result astronomers can see details up to 25 times finer than with individual telescopes.
He was involved in the discovery of the first image of an extrasolar planet, as well as in tracking individual stars moving around a supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way.
He also observed the subsequent radiance of the farthest known Gamma Ray Burst,